Oh What a Relief It Is

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Stimulus Package Includes Some Relief for Higher Education. The $2 trillion financial stimulus package passed on Friday affords about $14 billion to colleges and universities as they navigate closing campuses and remote learning. The funds dedicated to higher education represent about 46% of the education stabilization measures in the package. Although higher than the original $6 billion proposed by Senate Republicans, a memo from the American Council on Education (ACE) originally requested $50 billion to assist higher education institutions. Some education groups, including ACE, have already begun looking ahead to the next stimulus package for more relief. The New York Times has more.

Student Loan Payments Deferred Until September. The stimulus package also automatically suspends federal student loan payments until September without interest and halts all collection on defaulted student loans. The bill expands on the U.S. Education Department’s directive, issued last week, stating that the department would stop collecting on defaulted federal student loans for 60 days. In addition, borrowers seeking loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program will not be penalized for failing to make payments for the next six months. CNN reports.

Education Department to Provide Assessment Waivers to States. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education will grant waivers to states who cannot safely administer state assessments due to the novel coronavirus. As schools across the country move to remote learning, the department has relaxed the 95% mandatory participation rate under existing law and is reportedly working with Congress to expand DeVos’s emergency powers to waive educational and testing requirements. Education Dive has more.

Senators Write to Ed Dept, Administration Over Online Learning Privacy Concerns. Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote to the Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission, expressing concern regarding the abrupt transition to online learning for schools. While the senators noted the opportunities that technology provides to continue schooling, they also cautioned against a “widespread lack of transparency and inconsistent privacy and security practices” in educational technology. The Education Department published a fact sheet recently addressing the issue. Read more in The Washington Post.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of March 30, 2020. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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